From the Heart is a space for the reflections of our staff on issues that matter to them, to our network, and most importantly, to those we walk alongside.
This month, we hear from our Director of Compassion and Culture, Jennifer Kilimnik.
What do I need to hear when my heart is sad and I feel anxious, depressed, angry, fearful, and hurt? I need to hear that someone understands that I feel that way. I need someone to acknowledge that in every life there is suffering and right now, they know I am hurting, too. That they would take away all the difficulties if they could. But for now, they can try to respond to me in just the way I need: with compassion. Sometimes it will be staying close and other times, giving me the space to feel.
The end of the calendar year is fraught with expectations. Socializing, even if it drains you, or you feel inadequate, or you just need some time to be quiet. Making merry with gifts and food that deplete our bank accounts at a time when inflation is higher than most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Navigating relationships with our families and friends that may awaken painful traumas or just feel like more than we can bear in this moment. The extra push to get things done before January 1 and then the conversations asking you how you measured up during the year. And among all this and more, the message everywhere that this is the magical season of joy.
What if we aren’t feeling it? What if we just can’t tap into joy because we lost someone close to us this year, someone we love is sick, or WE are sick? Or this year, we feel lonely? Or this year, we can’t afford it? Or this year, we just want to take care of ourselves? Even if you do feel joyful and dive into the holiday season with all your heart, it can be exhausting and have moments where your heart feels heavy for the suffering of others.
I’d encourage you, as you read this, to imagine that there is someone who loves you in front of you right now. It may be someone who is actually in your life, someone who is no longer with us, a beloved pet, a being who embodies all the love you can imagine, or (perhaps best of all) your purest self.
Become aware of this presence and their acceptance of you in this moment, just as you are. They love you and want you to be happy and peaceful. Take a deep breath. Breathe in their loving kindness. Feel the warmth of it gently wrapping around the places in your heart or your body where you most need a tender caress.
They may even have some words for you. The words your heart most needs to hear. Take another breath and listen. What do you need to hear?
Let those words resonate for you and hold onto the feeling of that loving kindness. Simply rest in the gentle flow of your breath. It’s there for you in the moments when you most need to connect to a more peaceful place within your heart.
Most of all, the message I want to share is that you are not alone and you are loved. If you need supports, please reach out to someone who can help you. It may be someone already in your life who you trust and will listen. If you have it, call your Employee Assistance Program (for Healthcare Employees, that is Blue Cross at 204-786-8880) for free counselling sessions. Seneca Warm Line , operated by Sara Riel, offers supports for mental health and wellness 24 hours a day at 204-942-9276.
May you find moments of ease in this holiday season.